Brides in Cornwall and Devon

Wedding Planning in Devon

I'm Engaged! Now What?

Don’t know where to start? Let Wed kick off the journey to the aisle with this step-by-step guide to wedding planning success...

The question has been popped. A diamond is glinting on your finger. Your Facebook news feed has been chock full of congratulatory messages. And you’ve been so busy merrily soaking up the attention that you’ve barely even noticed your champagne hangover.

Now those heady days revelling in your newly engaged status have passed, a long road of wedding planning lies ahead. But where do you start? Let us give you a few pointers.

Emma Solley

You might be aching to make a short cut to more exciting decisions such as the dress, the cake and the pre-wedding beauty treatments, but settling on a budget is a crucial place to start. “Work out what you can realistically afford to spend on your wedding. Include money from parents if they have offered to help you. Until you know what your budget is, it will be very difficult to narrow down venues and suppliers and you may find yourself falling in love with something that you can’t afford,” says wedding planner Ali Berry of Ali Berry Weddings (

Nailing down your budget will determine the outcome of all those key decisions. “It might be difficult to do but it makes a difference when choosing between a reception at a castle or the village hall,” comments wedding planner Sarah Vaux ( “It also will affect the number of people you can invite, so it’s best to know where you stand from the start.”

Then it’s time to prioritise. “Ask yourself: what are the must haves? What can I do without?” advises wedding planner Tracy Edwards of Blue Fizz Events ( Decide which categories are the most important to you – whether it’s a couture gown, a top-notch photographer or a rip-roaring live band – and allocate your budget accordingly.

Emma Solley

Once you’ve decided how you’re going to foot the bill, it’s time to consider the question of when you’re going to get married. “Decide on a rough date or month. When making enquiries with venues and churches, this is the first question you’ll be asked,” says Sarah.

Prepare to be flexible. “The date won’t be set in stone until you have found a venue and/or church and they confirm that they are both available, but set yourselves a month/season/year in which you would like to get married,” advises Ali. “This will help, especially when checking the availability of suppliers and starting to think of the overall style for your wedding, whether it’s outdoors, winter and so on.”


Now comes the guest list – traditionally the most hotly debated issue of the entire planning process. “Sit down and write a list of everybody you would like to invite including family, friends and work colleagues. You will probably be surprised at how many people you know! Once you have an idea of numbers this will help you when searching for a venue,” says Sarah.

The guest list has a direct impact on every budgetary decision. Do you want a huge party for everyone you know? Or do you prefer the idea of an intimate celebration with just your close friends and family? Ask yourself these questions, all the while bearing in mind that the number of guests will determine the size of your venue and the cost of food and drink.

When you’ve decided on numbers, draw up a database of guest names, addresses and contact details, which you can refer to when sending out save the dates, invitations and thank you cards, as well as recording the RSVP responses.

Kirstin Prisk

Now comes the fun bit! Immerse yourself in wedding ideas and inspiration to your heart’s content. “Wedding magazines, blogs, Pinterest, wedding fairs – get your creative juices flowing and be inspired by all the wedding gorgeousness out there. Brides have a lot of choices these days so spend time looking up ideas which will complement your personalities and style,” says Ali.

Use the inspiration to build a clear idea of the theme, colour scheme – or simply the general vibe – of the wedding “Visualising your day and collecting images really helps you focus on the day as a whole and helps you make decisions ahead of booking suppliers,” comments Tracy.

Throwing the biggest party of your life can, at times, be a daunting task. An organised approach is key for minimising stress levels. “Invest in a folder or file to keep all your emails, invoices and quotes in one place,” suggests Ali.

Utilise the wonderful wedding planning tools now at your disposal. “Phone and web wedding planning apps are great for storing ideas and inspiration. Pinterest is the most amazing website for keeping ideas together and creating inspiration boards using images found on the web,” says Ali. But beware – this website can be very addictive!

Gilbert and Evans


Relax. Remember to enjoy being engaged. This is a precious chapter in your life story to be savoured. Don’t let the planning process get too overwhelming – it will leave you stressed out and your fiancé freaked out! Go on regular dates where wedding talk is banned, and retain a sense of perspective on what this whole wedding lark is really about.

We asked some wedding planners to outline the common planning pitfalls. Breeze your way to the aisle with these can’t-miss tips…

Rebecca Roundhill

“The success of a wedding relies on good suppliers. If you find a supplier difficult to get hold of or disorganised, trust your instinct and don’t book them. You need to rely on them to deliver on the services requested,” says Ali. “Make sure you have a few face-to-face meetings with the reception venue and the caterers. This counts for a big chunk of the budget and you need to make sure everything is correct,” says Sarah.

“Before paying deposits and booking suppliers, make sure that you understand their terms and conditions. Most deposits are non-refundable so don’t part with your hard-earned cash before you are comfortable with the contract,” advises Ali.

“As soon as the first deposit is paid, make sure you take out wedding insurance. I have had one caterer go into liquidation and the couple managed to get back their £1,000 deposit with the insurance,” comments Sarah.

Emma Solley

“Avoid telling friends and family too soon that they can expect an invitation to your wedding. Don’t make promises that you can’t keep, or you might feel compelled to invite more guests than you can afford or cause disappointment and upset,” advises Ali.

“Avoid asking for money. Monetary help should be something which is offered. Don’t put pressure on family to finance a lavish wedding if you can’t afford it on your own. This will only stir conflict and resentment,” says Ali.

“There’s a lot of inspiration and ideas out there, but avoid becoming so enthralled by everyone else’s weddings that you lose sight of a wedding which reflects your own personality and style,” advises Ali.


“Always have a wet-weather contingency plan. Hopefully you will not have to use it, but hiring umbrellas and building toilets within marquees will help ease the stress,” says Sarah.

words Rebecca Matthews

Copyright WED Magazine 2012